Bienvenidos: Students Celebrate the Start of Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic heritage month

The Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC) hosted its eighth annual Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) kickoff event on Friday night on O’Neill Plaza.

The HHM Bienvenidos festival featured Caribbean music, Latin American cuisine, student poetry, and a guest dance performance, among other festivities.

Danielle Rasmus, MCAS ’17, said the event gives her the yearly opportunity to enjoy and learn about a culture apart from her own.

“I love what the Hispanic heritage and culture promote,” Rasmus said. “They are very family-oriented, very friendly and open with their feelings, and very expressive.”

Michelle Castro, CSOM ’18, said the event is an opportunity to celebrate her culture and the experiences people from different cultures have in common.

At HHM, there was a mix of different cuisines from a multitude of cultures, including quesadillas from Mexico and plantains from Central and South America.

Jorge Mejia, a member of the Organization of Latin American Affairs (OLAA) and MCAS ’19, said that he went to HHM not only because he had a role in planning it, but also because he wanted to celebrate his Hispanic heritage.

Students also had the opportunity to perform their own poetry throughout the evening. Karina Herrera, MCAS ’17, recited a poem about her own experience growing up in a Hispanic household. Herrera was Mejia’s favorite performer of the night,

“She drew a lot of symbolism as to what little things to us meant to her,” Mejia said. “It would be like inculcating Hispanic culture into her life. She took a little trivial event and made it look very momentous.”

The event also showcased a guest performance by Pasión Latina, a dance group from Suffolk University, as well as live Caribbean music featuring a Cuban band.

The mission of the HHM Steering Committee is to create a greater sense of awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the heritage and contemporary achievements of Hispanic and Latino cultures, Marcela Norton, the BC Dining Services employee relations officer, said. Norton helped to organize the event with the HHM Steering Committee.

Gerardo Acosta, co-president of OLAA and MCAS ’17, echoed this sentiment, noting the importance of Latinos and other minority groups to share their experiences.

“Minorities are very rarely given an opportunity to speak for ourselves, represent ourselves,” he said. “Through culture events, many people know what’s on our minds, not only what we’re proud of, but also what we want to change, and things we want to have happen on campus.”

Acosta hopes to continue this dialogue through future events planned by BAIC, OLAA, and other culture clubs.

“It’s important to spread awareness about [our culture] and not just let the politics decide your view towards an entire group of people,” Castro said.

This event also follows the BC culture, he said, in that it teaches students to be men and women for others, particularly Hispanic minorities, and to not accept the stereotypes we see in popular culture.

“I think as BC students in particular, we need to realize that there is a kind of curse that we can succumb to—we can become very exclusive, insulated, and not realize that what we see on television and the media are patent and sober realities,” he said.

Featured image by Yi Zhao / Heights Editor.